This 4 week plan is perfect for someone new to cyclocross or new to training for cyclocross races. The workouts are cyclocross specific and aimed at someone who wants to train with minimal equipment expense. The workouts are for the athlete that has a heart rate monitor but can be accomplished without one. The plan is easy to adjust by the end user and can be repeated to cover a short or long cross calendar. The weekly workout hours vary from 6-9 hours. If you have any questions regarding the plan or workouts a contact email is available for consultation.
Warm up for 15 minutes with an easy spin.
Do 2 X 20 minute practice efforts with a target Heart rate average in the sweet spot range. (85-96% Functional threshold heart rate)
( See the link for setting FTHR )
Set up a preplanned course or route on dirt or grass. Have an obstacle spaced approximately every 5 minutes on the course. Obstacles can be real or "imaginary".
Each obstacle should take 10-30 seconds to negotiate with a dismount, short run and remount.
Rest for 10 minutes between each effort with an easy spin.
Warm down with an easy spin for 10 minutes.
Warm up for 20 minutes in zone 1
Main set: 4 X 8 minute efforts at 96-102% of threshold heart rate.
Rest for 4 minutes in zone 1 between efforts.
Cool down with 10 minutes of easy spinning.
30 minute CX focus run.
Start at a moderate pace then add a 20 second burst of speed every 5 minutes.
The burst should replicate a fast short run typical in a CX race.
If possible add a barrier or some sand to the run.
For optimum race simulation, do the run with your bike on your shoulder for the last 5 minutes of the run.
Warm up with 10 minutes of easy spin then ride for 10 minutes in zone 2. Once warm, begin the skills practice.
Keep this practice length at 1-1.5 hours.
The following is a list of skills to practice for cyclocross success. It is not possible to do them all in one practice. Choose those that align with your current skill set. If you are new focus on the basics. Traditional dismount and remounts will get you through your first few races. Once you get comfortable with those progress through the list.
Find a nice big grassy area with some terrain variation. Focus on smoothness and maintaining forward momentum. practice at fast and slow speeds but remember that more speed usually means a smoother remount. Start slow and progressively add speed as your confidence builds.
10 x dismounts and remounts on the standard - left side. Don't lift the bike, just hop on, get your pedal, hop off, and repeat.
10 x dismounts and remounts on the non standard - right side. Don't lift the bike, just hop on, get your pedal, hop off, and repeat.
10 x dismounts and remounts alternating sides. Don't lift the bike, just hop on, get your pedal, hop off, and repeat.
5 x dismounts and remounts with a few strides of running and a lift of the bike over a [simulated] barrier.
5 x dismounts and remounts on an uphill approach with a few strides of running and a lift of the bike over a [simulated] barrier.
5 x dismounts and remounts on a downhill approach with a few strides of running and a lift of the bike over a [simulated] barrier.
5 x dismounts and remounts with a lift and carry of the bike up a set of stairs.
5 x Find a grassy slope. Start at the top of the slope, descend at an angle to the bottom and climb back up to the top simulating an off camber section of the course.
5 x Find a tree or rock to perform a sharp turn around. Focus on down shifting into the turn and accelerating smoothly and efficiently out of the turn.
5 x Simulate the width of a cyclocross course through a turn using rocks or trees as a guide. Practice holding speed, pedaling through the turn, and utilizing outside/inside/outside techniques to enable this.
Optional - create a slalom course around trees, obstacles, playgrounds, rocks, clothing, water bottles etc. With one hand off the bike and holding your water bottle, practice your cornering through the obstacle course one handed.
Optional - in a loose gravel or sand section: practice entering, maintaining speed, keeping your weight on the rear wheel and your momentum throughout the length of the sand.
From a standing start, practice position, gearing and shifting as if it was the start of a race. Sprint the start for 100 yards.
Cool down with a 10 minutes easy spin
Warm up for 20 minutes in zone 1.
Do a 60 minute ride offroad, in grass or dirt trails if possible.
Vary the cadence every 5 minutes.
5 minutes above 90 rpm
5 minutes below 65 rpm
If you don't have a way to measure cadence, estimate. 90 rpm is near or slightly above where most people self select. It will fell fast but not overly so.
65 rpm is below most persons self selected cadence. It will feel slow and sloggy. It will replicate a typical heavy cross course with thick grass, mud or sand. Get comfortable making power at different pedal speeds.
Warm down with a 10 minute easy spin.
Warm up with 20 minutes of spin.
Ride for 90 minutes in zone 2.
Zone 2 is your all day pace -
This is the foundation of your aerobic engine. Heart rates should be in 70-85% of your threshold heart rate and wattages should be 60 - 75% of your Functional Threshold Power.
After the 90 minutes of endurance do 10 practice starts.
Practice 10 starts as if it was a race. Go through a start ritual and practice being ready to anticipate the start.
Bring you dominant foot forward to the 2'oclock position with your other foot on the ground. Make sure the empty pedal is flat and ready to receive your foot.
Be sure you are in a gear that is appropriate for the terrain. You should be able to take 5-10 hard pedal strokes before you need to upshift. Experiment with the best gear to start in till you are comfortable.
Go for at least three upshifts (about 60-80 yards) on each start. Make sure to spin the gear up before upshifting. During the upshift ease up on the pedal pressure for half of a pedal rotation to allow the chain to move without being under full load. Repeat for 10 starts with a few minutes rest between. Sprint the start hard. It is the only chance in a race that you have to pass everyone at once.
Cool down with a 10 minute easy spin.
Warm up with a 10 minute easy spin
2 X 10 minute efforts with 15 minute rest in between each effort.
Each 10 minute effort is 15 seconds ON , 15 seconds is OFF. Heart rate reacts too slowly to use it as a gauge of the effort in short bursts like these. It should feel like an 80% sprint for 15 seconds, then pedal easy for 15 seconds. Repeat continually for 10 minutes. Then spin easy zone 1 for 15 minutes to recover.
Do not coast during the rest period, continue to pedal. Teach your body to recover and repeat hard efforts.
Finish the ride with a warm down in zone 1 for 10 minutes